Updated 2:45 p.m.
Visiting Philadelphia’s most famous attraction just got a lot more convenient. As of Friday, people making a trip to the Liberty Bell will be able to relax and refresh at the world’s largest Wawa.
The new store is a specially-designed flagship — at 11,500 square feet, it’s larger than the next-biggest Wawa by nearly a third — but even if it wasn’t, its location makes it a game-changer.
In general, the area around Independence Mall has made huge strides over the past decade, transforming from a manicured container for revered structures to one that infuses their surroundings with fun and modern life. The Hotel Monaco buzzes to the east, Independence Beer Garden and La Colombe coffee shop are open on the mall’s west, and the Bourse Food Hall beckons to the north.
Add to those amenities a place where you can pop in for a quick soda to quench thirst, grab a snack to calm antsy kids, score an aspirin for a sudden headache or snag a smoothie for a welcome pick-me-up, and it’s a whole new world.
Set in the century-old Public Ledger Building at that stretches along Chestnut between 6th and 7th streets, the convenience store is now taking up space formerly occupied by an expensive virtual reality exhibit about Philly history that was severely underused. And no surprise — though the 3D projection show was cool, that’s all it was, and you could easily walk past without ever knowing it was there.
Not the case with the Wawa, whose giant red-lettered sign now hangs on the front of the marble-columned building. If there’s an aura of commercial crassness, it’s a muted one.
The Delaware County-based company seems to appreciate the importance of the new shop’s surroundings, and instructed designers to doubled down on features that make it blend in with its prestigious surroundings. In addition to unique design elements, the store has several food and drink options you can’t get anywhere else.
Thanks to photographer HughE Dillon of Philly Chit Chat, here’s a look inside.
The buildings stone columns are folded into the store layout, and covered in tasteful brick.
A collaboration with Mural Arts helped fill the walls with local art, depicting various scenes of the area’s illustrious past and hopefully bright future.
A wall of registers stretches along the front window.
Touchscreen ordering kiosks are blessedly arranged in circular hubs for easier access.
There’s a Coke freestyle machine with a fancy neon display.
Will this store sell more Tastykakes than any other Wawa? Good bet.
Yep, you can take away a Wawa-branded souvenir.
City Rep Sheila Hess with Wally, the Wawa mascot.
Doors open to the public at 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 14, with special giveaways for the first 200 customers. There’s also free coffee on offer all weekend long.